Open Source Licensing as a Legal and Economic Modality for the Dissemination of Renewable Energy

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* Article: Wiener, J., 2005. Sharing Potential and the Potential for Sharing: Open Source Licensing as a Legal and Economic Modality for the Dissemination of Renewable Energy Technology, Boston: Suffolk University Law School.

Available at: [Accessed June 15, 2009].


"There are considerable barriers to the development, deployment and marketability of renewable energy largely because patent schemes shield proprietary licenses in regions where capital is most aggregated and profits margins are abundant. Start-up costs continue to deter new entrants from trying their hand at developing efficient renewable energy systems. Proprietary licenses impose steep costs to firms seeking to purchase protected technology for regional deployment. Lastly, legal patent protection provides an artificial and non-competitive monopoly on technology that has widespread applicability and potentially unimaginable economic and environmental value.

Part I of this paper will discuss various multilateral renewable energy treaties. In particular, this paper will explore the legal and normative support for collaborative transfer of renewable energy technology.

Part II of this paper will trace a brief history of the open source movement and introduce some basic tenets of its philosophy. This paper will draw from theory on sharing and collaborating as an economic modality.3 A basic economic and legal analysis of open source will follow.

Part III will synthesize the open source philosophy with the practical legal and economic hurdles interposed by existing technology frameworks.

Lastly, this paper will argue that non-proprietary licensing of renewable energy technology would promote more regional and national renewable energy economies of scale, effectively divert the use of unsustainable and non-environmentally friendly energy sources, and equitably and efficiently disseminate renewable energy technology to maximize its utility.'

Thus, the non-proprietary licensing espoused by the open source developers provides a unique economic and legal modality for development and dissemination of renewable energy technology."